Full Q&A with Dan Guerrero, Pt. 2: UCLA Basketball

JG: The basketball program obviously had a tough season; how does a season like that affect you – as the administrator, as a fan, as someone whose paycheck is heavily involved in the success of the team?
DG: Obviously you want all your teams to do well, and certainly your marquee sports are critical to the success of the overall program; they’re the economic drivers. We’ve had the chance to experience wonderful success in the men’s basketball program. Three years in a row, we had that chance. But I view it from a more unique perspective because of the fact that I served on the committee the last five years and saw things from a different filter than most. I had the opportunity to really see a lot of programs during the last five years. What makes them tick, why they’re successful, why they’re not successful. It really confirmed that what we’re doing at UCLA is exactly the way it should be done. We had a tough year last year, by Ben’s admission. All the ingredients weren’t there. It was probably time for that to happen. You never want to go through stretches where you’re not clicking on the cylinders all the time, but it happened, and it happened for a number of reasons. We lost a number of good undergraduate players, we weren’t able to retain a lot of the young men who are on their way to being stars in the NBA if they’re not already. Not everyone we brought in was able to develop as quickly as we would’ve liked. It was almost the perfect storm. All of these factors converged on one season. We struggled.
But I believe Ben grew more as a coach this year than I’ve ever seen in him. This was really about finding about what this program is all about. Really sticking with your convictions, not compromising in any way. Those are the kinds of discussions we had all year long. I think Ben grew quite a bit from that.

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Savage named CBI.com coach of the year

From UCLA:

RICHMOND, Va. – UCLA head baseball coach John Savage has been named the national Coach of the Year by CollegeBaseballInsider.com, as announced by Monday by the national baseball website. Savage has guided the Bruins to a 51-15 record and their first-ever appearance in the finals of the College World Series.

After leading UCLA to a program-record 22-0 start in early April, Savage helped the Bruins engineer an exciting postseason run, highlighted by an NCAA Super Regional series victory over Cal State Fullerton followed by a berth in the best-of-three championship series this week in Omaha, Neb.

Savage has earned his first trip to the College World Series in nine seasons as a head coach (three years at UC Irvine, followed by six at UCLA). He was selected from a group of five finalists, which included Jim Schlossnagle (runner-up) of TCU, John Pawlowski of Auburn, Tim Esmay of Arizona State and Ray Tanner of South Carolina.

Sporting a 51-15 record entering the finals of the College World Series, UCLA is 36 games above the .500 plateau for the first time in program history. The Bruins finished second in the Pac-10 before hosting an NCAA Regional for the first time since 1986. UCLA was ranked in just one preseason top-25 poll (Baseball America, No. 23).

“This is always a difficult decision, and this year was no exception,” said Phil Stanton, co-founder of CollegeBaseballInsider.com. “UCLA has showed signs of breaking through the past few years, but did it in a way that not many expected. John Savage has led the Bruins to the brink of a national title one year removed from a losing season. We congratulate Coach Savage and his tremendous staff for a fantastic season.”

Savage has twice been named a finalist for this award by CollegeBaseballInsider.com – in 2006 at UCLA and in 2004 at UC Irvine. He was named Assistant Coach of the Year by Collegiate Baseball at USC in 1998.

CollegeBaseballInsider.com has covered Division I college baseball on a national level since 2002. Past coaches of the year include Brian O’Connor of Virginia in 2009, Paul Mainieri of LSU and Mark Marquess of Stanford in 2008, Tim Corbin of Vanderbilt and Rob Childress of Texas A&M in 2007, John Cohen of Kentucky in 2006, Pat Casey of Oregon State in 2005, David Perno of Georgia in 2004 and Elliott Avent of North Carolina State in 2003.

UCLA (51-15) takes on South Carolina (52-16) in a best-of-three championship series beginning Monday at 4:30 p.m. (PT). Each game will be televised live on ESPN, as both the Bruins and the Gamecocks seek their first-ever NCAA baseball championship.

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Full Q&A with Dan Guerrero, Pt. 1: UCLA Baseball

Jon Gold: Most athletic directors have a passion for a particular sport, and as a former baseball player, you’re clearly a baseball guy. Does that make this year’s run to the College World Series any more special for you?
Dan Guerrero: I go back to my senior year in high school, when I was being recruited by a number of schools. I chose UCLA during my senior year, which was also the first time UCLA went to Omaha, 1969. It was the Chris Chambliss year. I thought I would come to UCLA, play freshman ball my first year, and maybe have the opportunity to come to Omaha myself. That dream never got realized. As I followed UCLA baseball over the years, saw the legacy of the great players who’ve gone through this program, to know that only one other team since that year was able to achieve this goal was a pretty interesting scenario. To actually be a part of not only the team that came back, but the first team to win in it, is really special to me. If you wear the uniform, you always have pride in that, throughout your career. You yearn for the days when your team can not only do well but have the chance to play for something. Coming to Omaha gives us a chance to play for the big prize. So it’s not only special for me, it’s special for all the other guys who’ve played baseball at UCLA.

JG: Have you been here before for the College World Series??
DG: My first year at UCLA, I was on the committee. Mitch Barnhart was the athletic director at Oregon State and got the Kentucky job, so they needed a replacement for him. Since they knew I was a “baseball guy” – in fact, I’d been on the Division II baseball committee for four, five years – I was familiar with the ropes and knew what was expected, I served for a short time on that committee.

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Getting to know…Trevor Bauer

Born (Date and location): Jan. 17, 1991 in North Hollywood
Favorite TV show: Baseball Tonight and Law & Order
What’s in my iPod: Heavy metal, pretty much all heavy metal
Dream car: Whatever gets me from A to B without breaking down
Favorite movie(s): For the Love of the Game
What I’m reading right now: Not textbooks, kind of taking a break from those
Worst habit: Probably sleeping through my alarm
On my bedroom walls/office desk you’ll find: A case of origami I’ve made, a Family Guy poster, a combat pitching poster plus a wall of fame and a wall of shame on teams I’ve been through
I’d love to trade places for a day with: Tim Lincecum
A talent I’d most like to have: I’d love to be able to play the guitar
Favorite meal: That’s a tough one…shrimp pasta
Favorite athlete to watch: Tim Lincecum
Favorite vacation: Don’t take that many, but my family and I have gone down to Carlsbad for a long time
Favorite sports team: Duke basketball
Dream date: I don’t have a dream date
My hero: Tim Lincecum
Goal for the season/year: From a team perspective, get to Omaha and win the national championship. On a personal level, I want to go out there and strike people out and be Pac-10 player of the year
Biggest rival: Personally, Devin Rodriguez from Cal; we went to high school together. For a team, either Cal State Fullerton or Stanford
Pregame ritual: Don’t really have much…before I go on the field. During the game…
Best advice I’ve received from a coach: “Be comfortable being uncomfortable” and “Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work,” by Thomas Edison.

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Bauer is unreal

Trevor Bauer now has 13 strikeouts, after I questioned John Savage’s decision to leave him out for the eighth. Then he struck out the side against TCU’s 1-2-3 hitters. I honestly don’t have enough descriptive words for him.

Meanwhile, TCU is on its sixth pitcher, and it’s 108 degrees.

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